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Literary Adventure: Boston Book Fest 2016

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day for the Boston Book Festival. For those of you who don’t know about Boston Book Festival, it is a wonderful evening and day of events that are free for book lovers like me. Over 200 authors participated along with radio personalities from WBUR. 

I was fortunate enough to attend the kick-off event on Friday: Storytelling for Page and Screen with Emma Donoghue, Marie Semple and Tom Perrotta, discussion led by WBUR’s Robin Young. It was fascinating listening to the different ways a novel is adapted to the screen: Whether the author themselves adapts their novel or someone else does; whether the narrator changes; is it going to be a screenplay at all? I, along with many of you, believe that the book is always better than the movie – but I had never really sat and thought about the necessity of cutting the bits we might love in order to make a complete film. Now, instead of complaining, I will recognize that the film can bring a different perspective and have a different tone – and, more importantly, that’s ok. It’s all in the way the artist chose to adapt the novel. What are your thoughts?
Saturday, I started my day wondering the many stalls and picking up some BBF2016 buttons and perhaps a few books that you will hear about later (stay tuned)

My first event of the day was Reading Like a Writer: Social Commentary.  Suzanne Berne, Meg Little Reilly, and Anne Solomon all read a part of their novels. Michelle Hoover then led an interactive discussion about the social commentary that is interwoven into each book. It was a captivating discussion because both writers and readers participated. Some of the useful comments (paraphrased) for writers included that it is important for authors to frame the problem they are trying to address, not solve it and to maintain a “psychic distance” from your characters. Another discussion of Anne Solomon’s Leaving Lucy Pearinvolved how a historical setting in a novel can in certain respects open more doors for an author to comment on society – you can stay true to the past while bringing in elements of a future perspective to make it more relevant to the reader…just some thoughts to keep in mind when you read or write your next book.
Next, I went to Fiction Keynote: Colson Whitehead Talks with Saeed Jones. Now, like many of you, I was still on the waiting list for Underground Railroad at the library, but after hearing Whitehead speak, I couldn’t resist! It was interesting to hear about the concept of this book and its development from an idea Whitehead had as a child into a famous book we have to wait on lists to get. Readers were allowed to asked questions which were…interesting?…at times, but Whitehead and Jones did an excellent job of stopping any spoilers and generating interest in the novel. I can’t wait to delve into this book!
Finally, after a lunch break, I went to Having Presence and Being Present where Amy Cuddy and Sherry Turkle discuss their findings on technology and its influence on our presence and interaction with the world with WBUR’s Robin Young. I had read Amy Cuddy’s book Presence after I heard her speak on the radio – I’m sorry I cannot remember what show she was on at the time. I was fascinated about her findings on how simply standing open to the world could improve your confidence and likewise translate into success across many fields. I rarely ever speak of Non-Fiction books, but grab this one. A few of my friends may be getting this book for Christmas (Shhhh…) I have not read Sherry Turkle’s novel Reclaiming Conversation, but it was interesting to hear the overlap between her findings about our addiction to cell phones and how we are harming the younger generations with Amy Cuddy’s observations on use of a cell phone. I didn’t want the conversation to end and I don’t think Robin Young or the audience did either.
All in all it was a great day at the Boston Book Fest and I wish I could have fit in more!!
My only critique of this event would be that the buying of books and waiting to get them signed was not always very clear. The lines seemed more like large mobs of people all trying to figure out if they were in the write place, but if you have the patience it was worth it to meet the authors (and maybe get a few extra special Christmas presents). 

Hopefully I will see you next year Boston Book Fest!

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